Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Virtual Worlds + Offshoring = ?

While I was in the shower this morning, I was musing on how real virtual worlds are becoming. The Merc had an article on how Linden Lab, the company behind Second Life, had hired a freelance journalist to report the virtual news.

That got me to thinking about how the real and virtual worlds are becoming increasingly blurry. If people can pay real money for virtual services, why not virtual money for real services?

Somehow, my mind jumped to the question of offshoring. Every white-collar worker, including me, has at least some worries about whether or not their job functions can be shipped overseas. I've comforted myself with the reasoning that my ability to navigate the Silicon Valley way of doing business, which necessitates personal contacts and networking, can't be replaced by India. Yet.

But....putting on my prognostication hat, I can envision a world in which the majority of working age people who grown up using virtual worlds for real-world collaboration. What's to stop the next generation of Linden Lab from replacing WebEx or PlaceWare?

And if the majority of businesspeople are used to doing business via a virtual world interface, why would distance matter? Whether your VP Marketing is in Bangalore or Palo Alto would become irrelevant.

I don't know whether the death of distance is 15 years in the future or 50. But it will have major consequences for the real and virtual world.

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